Shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murdering George Floyd last May, about 200 people gathered outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to express relief that justice was served.
Yet the crowd, which paled in comparison to the thousands who flooded the streets last spring following Floyd’s murder, acknowledged that the fight for systemic change must continue.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that he was concerned and stressed when he woke up until he heard the verdict. He admitted that even though he was relieved, he had a hard time celebrating because many victims of police brutality don’t receive the same justice for the loved ones.
“Maybe this is the first step. But today, I think it’s okay to breathe a little relief. But we got a lot more work to do. And tomorrow, hopefully, I see you again at the table,” Williams said.
Jay Walker, an activist with the political action groups Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns, had his doubts that George Floyd and his family would see justice and thought Chauvin would only be convicted of manslaughter.
But when he heard that Chauvin was convicted on all three counts, Walker said that he had a glimmer of hope in the justice system for the first time in his life.
“We lived through Rodney King, we lived through Eleanor Bumpurs, we lived through so many murders of my people, year in and year out long before there were cell phones to catch any of this on video,” he said. “We finally have a moment where someone is being held accountable for killing a black person for no reason. … We can taste some justice that we can feel down to our very core. And tomorrow we get back to work.”
Brooklyn Council Member Brad Lander reflected that it was remarkable that even though Floyd’s murder was recorded, people still had felt anxious about the outcome of the trial because too many times, police officers are not held responsible.
“But if we got accountability, we are a long way from justice. Because there are so many more names to say, just from the time of George Floyd’s killing. We were out here last year, saying Breonna Taylor’s name, and now Daunte Wright’s name and Adam Toledo’s name,” the candidate for comptroller said.
Mayoral Candidate Maya Wiley said everyone needed to recognize that the job is not done. She said that as mayor, she would immediately pull $1 billion from the NYPD and invest the funds in mental health services and crisis response should she become mayor.
“And the other thing we will do is, the police commissioner of the New York City Police Department will not have the final say in police discipline, period, because we will put the public back in public safety, and that means us,” the former adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio demanded.
Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer felt a sense of relief upon hearing the verdict. Like his colleagues, he also thought that a lot more work needed to be done to change the justice system.
As mayor, he would call for more investment in communities that have been overpoliced, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and create one standard of justice.
“I think that the way we budget programs that we can invest in, we can model a new day in the city and lead the nation in how we can treat our people and create one standard of justice. That’s the goal that I have if I become mayor,” New York City’s current comptroller explained.